September 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

This interesting note has been making the internet rounds and, as they usually do, made its way into my email. It is telling. A young Orthodox seminarian writes in response to a quotation Andrew Sullivan posted on his blog for Atlantic Monthly. It is relevant and most timely.  A reader writes:

I am an Eastern Orthodox seminary student studying to become a priest. I want to thank you so much for this quote yesterday:

"Imagine a libertarian Christianity, which urged individuals to give away as much of their property as possible to the poor, to forget about the sex lives of their neighbors and focus on their own, to pray more than politic and to forgive more than to judge. Imagine, in other words, Christianity, and remind yourself how alien Christianism is to it."

My Church is currently being flooded with ex-Evangelicals who "want something more". I'm happy to have them return to the embrace of more ancient Christianity, but they have also brought their baggage and bizarre political agendas. This is currently causing a great deal of strife in our Church in America as one faction wants to be Christians as you described above, and the other wants to be people who march in political rallies, send letters to congress, and hold public guilt ("prayer") services for victims of abortion.

Thank you so much for expressing so clearly what Christianity is, and for calling out all of us who fall short of it. I think many Christianists would label you somehow as an enemy of Christianity, but really, in demanding that Christians practice what the scripture actually preaches, you are the greatest friend of all of us who struggle to do so. Many thanks from a long-time reader and devout and faithful Christian.

That small quote did so much to bolster my spirits and it gave me energy to get back to fighting the good fight on behalf of those in need."

Sullivan responds:

"At one point, Christians will look back on this period, I believe, with horror. The desire to control others' lives and souls through politics is so anathema to the Gospels it will one day have to be exposed and ended. Until then, we just have to keep our spirits up and attend to our own failures as Christians, which, of course, are many."

My response: I could not agree more.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. Antony Hughes